Jan Blachowicz can't explain why he wasn't himself in his last performance, which cost him the light heavyweight title he worked so hard to earn. Now the top-ranked contender, Blachowicz hopes to get back in the title picture on Saturday when he faces third-ranked Aleksandar Rakic in the main event of UFC Fight Night: Blachowicz vs. Rakic. The main UFC fight card is set for 10 p.m. ET from the Apex facility in Las Vegas. Blachowicz won the title on a five-fight winning streak that included one successful defense, but he lost the belt in second defense against grappling specialist Glover Teixeira. However, he will likely get another crack at the title with a win over the rising Rakic, who is looking for a signature win of his own to gain leverage towards his first title shot.
Rakic is a -175 favorite (risk $175 to win $100), while Blachowicz comes back at +155 in the latest UFC Fight Night: Blachowicz vs. Rakic odds from Caesars Sportsbook. The co-main event also features light heavyweight prospects Ion Cutelaba (-210) and Ryan Spann (+180). Before locking in any picks of your own for UFC Fight Night: Blachowicz vs. Rakic, make sure you check out the MMA predictions and betting advice from SportsLine expert Andrew Gombas.
With more than 1,400 selections tracked by the third-party monitoring service Bet MMA, he has shown a 6 percent return on investment for his followers. Over the past two years, his followers have netted a profit of more than $10,000.
In January, Gombas kicked off the 2022 UFC season in memorable fashion by advising SportsLine members to back Calvin Kattar (+200) against Giga Chikadze (-240) in a battle of ranked featherweight contenders in the main event. Kattar dominated to win a unanimous decision and give his followers an easy winner. Anyone who has followed Gombas already has seen massive returns.
Now, with UFC Fight Night: Blachowicz vs. Rakic in sight, Gombas has studied the UFC card from every angle and released his top MMA picks. His expert UFC picks are only available at SportsLine.
UFC Fight Night: Blachowicz vs. Rakic preview
Blachowicz (28-9), 39, is known for his lethal power and the stunning about-face his career trajectory took after it appeared his ceiling might be UFC journeyman at best. The Polish slugger lost four of his first six fights with the promotion and was reportedly in jeopardy of losing his roster spot.
But his stunning comeback started with a submission of Devin Clark in October 2017 and he eventually captured the title left vacant by Jon Jones with a brutal knockout of celebrated prospect Dominick Reyes at UFC 253 in September 2020 as a nearly 4-1 underdog.
The pinnacle of his career came in his first title defense in March of last year, when he used his underrated athleticism and grappling to defeat previously unbeaten middleweight king Israel Adesanya, who was attempting to become a rare two-division champion. Blachowicz won decisively on the scorecards despite the lack of respect from oddsmakers, who made him a 3-1 underdog.
However, in October he ran into another hungry veteran in Teixeira, who used his masterful ground game to earn a second-round submission. Blachowicz appeared flat and was criticized for offering little resistance.
Even so, he remains the top-ranked contender and will likely get another shot at the crown should he get past Rakic (14-2), who appears to be both an intriguing and enigmatic talent.
The 30-year-old Austrian fighter received recognition and a performance bonus for his head-kick knockout of veteran Jimi Manuwa in June 2019, but his last three fights have been lackluster performances that all went to the scorecards, and he won two of them. Rakic defeated former title-challenger Thiago Santos at UFC 259 in March. You can only see who to back at UFC Fight Night here.
UFC Fight Night predictions
We'll reveal one of Gombas' UFC Fight Night selections here: He is backing Katlyn Chookagian (-170) to get her hand raised against Amanda Ribas (+150) in a clash of women's flyweight contenders.
Ribas (11-2) is 5-1 and has competed at both flyweight and strawweight, where she earned a top-10 ranking but also suffered her lone UFC defeat to Marina Rodriguez. The Brazilian fighter is moving back up to flyweight on Saturday and will likely crack the top-10 rankings with a victory.
Chookagian (17-4) is a six-year UFC veteran who is now the top-ranked contender in the division following a stretch in which she has won four of her last five and three straight. The 33-year-old Pennsylvania native is likely one win away from perhaps securing her second career title shot. She is coming off a decision win against Jennifer Maia in January.
"Chookagian is going to light Ribas up with straight punches. She is a brown belt with good takedown defense, so I doubt Ribas can out-grapple her at a high clip. I also expect Chookagian to wear on the cardio of Ribas by landing push kicks to the body," Gombas told SportsLine.
How to make UFC Fight Night picks
Gombas also has strong picks for Blachowicz vs. Rakic and other fights on the UFC Fight Night card. He's also backing a fighter who "should have a wrestling advantage, and I expect him to use it." Those expert UFC picks and predictions are only available at SportsLine.
Who wins Blachowicz vs. Rakic? And which fighter is a must-back? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed top picks on UFC Fight Night, all from the insider who's up more than $10,000 on MMA picks the past two years, and find out.
UFC Fight Nights odds, fight card, betting lines
Aleksandar Rakic (-175) vs. Jan Blachowicz (+155)
Michael Johnson (-135) vs. Alan Patrick (+115)
Virna Jandiroba (-180) vs. Angela Hill (+160)
Tatsuro Taira (-260) vs. Carlos Candelario (+220)
Jake Hadley (-220) vs. Allan Nascimento (+190)
Davey Grant (-320) vs. Louis Smolka (+260)
Katlyn Chookagian (-170) vs. Amanda Ribas (+150)
Ion Cutelaba (-210) vs. Ryan Spann (+180)
Nick Maximov (-400) vs. Andre Petroski (+320)
Andrea Lee (-120) vs. Viviane Araujo (+100)
Manuel Torres (-135) vs. Frank Camacho (+115)